Like I Used To

Today is a grandchild caregiving day with another outing to The Leaf in Winnipeg, Canada, then out for lunch, and tonight I’ll be going to a retirement dinner to celebrate a former colleague. The latter will be my first large gathering since the pandemic began, and the first time I’ll see some of my former co-workers since I took early retirement almost six years ago. A pretty full day.

This morning, I was taking a look through suggested videos from YouTube. I found “Like I Used To,” a 2021 collaboration single by two longtime-mutual-admirers, American singer-songwriters Sharon Van Etten (b. 1981) and Angel Olsen (b. 1987).

Van Etten, who had met Olsen many times, decided to contact her to explore the idea of singing together. She sent Olsen a song she’d been working on, and the collaboration began. In a Pitchfork magazine review, Olsen says, “I’ve met with Sharon here and there throughout the years and have always felt too shy to ask her what she’s been up to or working on. The song reminded me immediately of getting back to where I started, before music was expected of me, or much was expected of me, a time that remains pure and real in my heart.

The two create moving, magical harmonies in this piece.

“Will the marker stain the skin?
Stole the dress I saw you in
Now nothing comes to mind
Saw a life as override
One more session overdrive
The ceiling is the roof

Change address and draw a line
Show my friends the silver line
Call my family just to know they’re there

Sleepin’ in late like I used to
Crossing my fingers like I used to
Waiting inside like I used to
Avoiding big crowds like I used to

Crawl the field and let you in
Brand my heart I found you in
To say nothing’s more apart
Will my lover be there, stay
Follow them to less the pain
The ceiling must be wrong

Well, my head’s gone today
Sell my past for a way
To sing and have something left to say
Pray my hands, pray my voice
Give the reason, take away
Make believe an order for to stay

Lighting one up like I used to
Dancing all alone like I used to
Giving it up like I used to
Falling in love like I used to

Open my heart like I used to
Making out long like I used to
Holding hands openly, rights to
Taking what’s mine like I used to

Like I used to (Like I used to)
Like I used to (Like I used to)”

“Like I Used To,” by Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen.
Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

“Like I Used To” was produced by John Congleton, the recording wizard behind Van Etten’s 2019 album Remind Me Tomorrow, which features the angst-fueled track, “Seventeen.”

The song is a good reminder to, paraphrasing Olsen, get back to where you started before external influences made you feel you had to change the way you lived your life to fit someone else’s ideals.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official music video, by American writer, producer and director Kimberly Stuckwisch, from the Sharon Van Etten YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

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